Upswell 2020: A Virtual Experience

Upswell, powered by Independent Sector (IS), sees itself more as a gathering than a conference. Having attended the inaugural Upswell 2018, subsequent Upswell 2019 (including Upswell Chicago: Equity in the Center), and previous five IS Annual Conferences, I love this reimagination and replacement of the typical conference and look forward to attending Upswell 2020, which runs October 14-16. While the gathering element may be compromised because of the need to hold Upswell virtually this year, I’m very excited by the list of Speakers, including Ibram X. Kendi, Isabel Wilkerson, William J. Barber II, Lucy Bernholz, and Jasiri X!

Upswell smartly focuses on just two areas:

  1. Anti-racism
  2. COVID-19 recovery

No matter your mission, one thing is true for all of us: we can’t go back to the way things were.

2020 has fundamentally unsettled us, calling into question how we live, who we see, and what we value.

As changemakers, we now have an extraordinary opportunity to propose — and collectively engineer — a future that doesn’t just help our communities survive, but instead reimagines society so that every person can thrive.

Consider this your invitation to help design the next normal.

Running Highlights …

* based in part on my interpretations of the speakers’ words

Opening Main Stage: Isabel Wilkerson

The crisis of systemic racism that continues to grip our nation is born of a long and tragic history suffered by African Americans, illuminated in the books, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” the story of The Great Migration, the story of 6 million African Americans who traveled in search of a better life from the South to the Northeast, Midwest, and West between 1916 and 1970; and “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” which compares the experience of American people of color to the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany.

  • Wilkerson read this powerful excerpt from her book: “We in the developed world are like homeowners who inherited a house on a piece of land that is beautiful on the outside, but whose soil is unstable loam and rock, heaving and contracting over generations, cracks patched but the deeper ruptures waved away for decades, centuries even. Many people may rightly say, “I had nothing to do with how this all started. I have nothing to do with the sins of the past. My ancestors never attacked indigenous people, never owned slaves.” And, yes. Not one of us was here when this house was built. Our immediate ancestors may have had nothing to do with it, but here we are, the current occupants of a property with stress cracks and bowed walls and fissures built into the foundation. We are the heirs to whatever is right or wrong with it. We did not erect the uneven pillars or joists, but they are ours to deal with now.”
  • “A caste system is an artificial construction, a fixed and embedded ranking of human value that sets the presumed supremacy of one group against the presumed inferiority of other groups on the basis of ancestry and often immutable traits, traits that would be neutral in the abstract but are ascribed life-and-death meaning in a hierarchy favoring the dominant caste whose forebears designed it.”
  • There is an enduring belief that Black and Brown people don’t feel the same level of pain as White people.
  • We are seeing people autonomically responding to their internal programming that views certain people belonging in certain places.
  • “Caste is the infrastructure of our divisions, the architecture of human hierarchy. It is about power and who rules the earthly resources at whose expense. Caste is the bones, race the skin. Race has long been scientifically proven to be a manmade invention with no basis in science or biology.” – East Village Magazine
  • “We cannot fix what we cannot see. We cannot heal from what we do not diagnose.”
  • Wilkerson looked at Nazi Germany after the events at Charlottesville and found how the caste system in Nazi Germany (dehumanizing people of Jewish faith) was informed by the caste system in the United States (dehumanizing Black people). Essentially, the Nazis in Germany learned how to institutionalize racism from the United States.

Main Stage: Ibram X. Kendi

Known as one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist voices, Ibram X. Kendi is the author of three #1 New York Times bestsellers: How to Be an Antiracist, which made several Best Books of 2019 lists and was described in The New York Times as “the most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind;” Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, co-authored with Jason Reynolds; and Antiracist Baby, a board book that empowers parents and children to uproot racism in our society and in ourselves. Moderated by Stacey Stewart, president and CEO of March of Dimes and Independent Sector board member, we’re honored to have Ibram join the Main Stage to discuss how “racial inequity is a problem of bad policy, not bad people,” and help guide our collective work toward action and systemic change.

  • To be antiracist is to look out in our society and see the racial inequities and disparities, and see the causes of those disparities are our racist policies. There’s nothing superior or inferior to any racial group. So these disparities are due to policies and practices. To be antiracist is to exercise effort to change those policies and practices and recognize that we are taught as a people to see these disparities and be racist.
  • Racist and antiracist are not terms that describe people; they describe a particular framework and what we may be at any moment in time. To be antiracist is to admit those times where we are actually being racist.
  • Disparities are due to bad people (racist point of view) or bad policies.
  • Genetic differences are not the reason for our horrible disparities and inequities. There are more differences within Africa than between Western Africa and Western Europe.
  • Black people are dying at 2.3 times the rate of white people from COVID-19. This is due to policies, specifically those affecting access to resources and opportunities.
  • The journey to being antiracist is a journey involving learning and unlearning.
  • We’re all part of institutions, organizations, and communities. We must organize to teach our communities. We can’t rely on the federal government to do so.
  • In this election, there is a war between voter subtraction policies and the American people. We need policies to promote full voter participation, disclosures by politicians to their constituents of how they voted on every bill, and a strong democracy.
  • Ibram sees hope in witnessing writers and leaders highlighting intersections of identities and commonalities in their activism.
  • Intersection approach in being antiracist – recognizing not only disparities along one identity framework (e.g., race), but along combinations of identities (e.g., race, gender identity, sexual orientation). Disaggregating data to allow for recognition of more specific disparities is necessary.
  • Are you upholding the system of racism or are you challenging it? Courage is the strength to do what is right in the face of fear.

Race to Lead: The Data and The Assessment

Most nonprofit staffers work in organizations where 75% of the board and senior leadership are white. People of color fare less well than white respondents in white-run groups, and all respondents – across race – do well in POC-led organizations where 50% or more of the board and senior leadership are people of color. These are key findings from the “Race to Lead Revisited” report released this year by Building Movement Project, which has 20 years of addressing race and race equity. Data collected from more than 5,000 paid nonprofit staffers to understand race and leadership in the sector is the jump-off point for REAL – the Race Equity Assessment for Learning, an easy-to-use and scalable assessment for nonprofits. Gain an understanding of four key competencies to address race equity, and get details on REAL’s customized narrative report on where organizations stand in these areas and how to become more equitable internally.

  • Unfortunately, the session hit a capacity threshold and I was unable to attend, but here are some highlights from the Race to Lead Revisited Report:
  • “Race to Lead Revisited confirms findings in the original 2017 report that people of color have similar leadership qualifications as white respondents. As in the first Race to Lead report, more people of color aspire to become nonprofit leaders than their white counterparts, and the 2019 results show the gap between the two groups is widening. In contrast to three years prior, people of color were substantially more likely to state that race is a barrier to their advancement, while white respondents were more likely to agree that their race provides a career advantage. People of all races were more likely to agree with statements describing obstacles people of color face in obtaining leadership positions. Both these findings point to greater awareness of the problem but a lack of change in actual conditions.”
  • “This report categorizes the nonprofit workplaces of survey respondents into three organizational types: White-run organizations in which the board and leadership is more than 75% white; POC-led organizations in which more than 50% of the board and leadership are people of color; and All Other organizations with leadership configurations in between the other two categories. Notably, the All Other category also skews significantly toward leadership demographics that are predominantly white. Among these three organization types, almost half of survey respondents worked in White-run organizations, followed closely by All Other organizational configurations, and a much smaller share of survey respondents worked in POC-led organizations. People of color in White-run organizations reported the least positive experiences compared to people of color working in the two other organizational categories. The white advantage is also evident in the financial status of both organizations and individuals in the nonprofit sector.”

Dismantling Barriers to Capital: Overcoming Racial Bias in Funding

As the demand for racial justice continues to erupt across the nation, are racial biases creating barriers to capital and leading funders to systemically overlook and undervalue solutions by leaders of color — producing racially inequitable funding flows in philanthropy? Echoing Green President Cheryl Dorsey and Jeff Bradach, managing partner and co-founder of The Bridgespan Group, will present original research that points to “yes,” identifying the major drivers of racial disparities in funding in the social sector. This inequity hinders organizations by and for people of color, and the well-being of leaders of color—often best positioned to drive social change for their organizations and communities. Join this conversation about the racial funding gap, hear first-hand experiences about what has and hasn’t worked, how Echoing Green and Bridgespan are working to improve their organizations, and actively engage with your questions and participation in polling about your organization’s experiences.

  • Discussion centered on the following report: Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Table published in May 2020.
  • “The reason you see Black people struggling to raise money, build a company, or start a movement, is not because they aren’t good at it. It’s certainly not because they aren’t as capable as people who have the resources. It’s because of the way this all started out. The U.S. was founded on and continues to operate with the exploitation of Black labor. If you understand that, you’ll come to this work more humble as a funder.” – Brandon Anderson, Founder of Raheem
  • Why funders haven’t addressed barriers for funding to leaders of color: awareness, understanding (think funding disparities are due to factors other than race), motivation (do not see the barriers to capital as a major impediment), clear steps.
  • Unrestricted net assets of Black-led organizations are 76% smaller than their White-led counterparts – indicator of differences in trust.
  • Four key barriers to capital faced by BIPOC leaders: getting connected, building rapport (interpersonal bias manifests as mistrust and micro-aggressions), securing support for organization (funders lack understanding of culturally relevant approaches), sustaining the relationship.
  • Dismantling barriers requires funders to address three underlying drivers: bias (deliberately and transparently counter interpersonal and systemic biases), risk (redefine risk by revisiting assumptions about what is necessary to achieve social impact (e.g., seek opportunities to build capacity rather than punishing under-investment), power (actively share, cede, and build power (valuing proximity and ensuring accountability for doing so), which may involve working to repair harm.

Main Stage: Reverend Samuel Rodriguez

We all look forward to the day when our nation begins to turn from our immediate response to the racial, economic, and health crises facing us, toward the momentous work of rebuilding our country to create a more perfect union. Rebuilding will take vision, it will take soul-driven strength, and it will take resources. At the core of our rebirthed nation are our civic practices – things like voting, volunteerism and service, and charitable giving – the ties that bind us together. Reverend Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference takes the Main Stage to explore why investing in the civic infrastructure of the United States must be more than a simple policy aim. It must be a moral imperative for each of us, including those who lead us, to ensure our rebuilding work results in a more just, equitable, and healthier nation.

  • This is the time for us to reinvent our society built on righteousness, justice, truth, and love. We must remove the systemic racism and injustices from our policies and practices. We can do this together, reconciling God’s message with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march.
  • Every society is failing, surviving, or thriving. We want every single individual and community to thrive.
  • The Lamb’s Agenda: “Joining the Christianity of Martin Luther King Jr. and Billy Graham, The Lamb’s Agenda reveals the crucial connection between biblical social justice and spiritual righteousness. Getting back to the basics of Christianity means extending our efforts simultaneously in the vertical direction of God and the horizontal direction of our neighbors.”
  • Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s captivity. We are what we tolerate. Silence is not an option. 

Main Stage: Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, Bernie Williams, and Mary Luehrsen

Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from, and what does it mean? Chenjerai Kumanyika considers those questions as part of Scene on Radio’s 14-part documentary, “Seeing White.” Researcher, journalist, organizer, and assistant professor in Rutgers University’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies, Kumanyika is also co-executive producer and co-host of Uncivil, Gimlet Media’s Peabody award-winning podcast on the Civil War. He joins us on the Main Stage to discuss the intersections of social justice and emerging media in the cultural and creative industries, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color, and what we must do to ensure that pandemic recovery includes all of our nation’s communities. 

  • When you put on a uniform, you leave the realm of the individual and join the realm of the body/culture. Institutionally racist structures can include many people who are antiracist in their lives outside of those institutions and structures. But that shouldn’t chill the criticism and demand to reform and/or remove those racist structures.
  • It’s fully possible for a racist system to exist under a woke surface. We can’t be putting woke faces on oppressive places.
  • Policing in this country was created to enforce a social order (see Isabel Wilkerson highlights above). The system is doing exactly what it was created to do.
  • When we do this radical work of transformation, you may be called cynical. But cynical is what describes those who say you can’t change these racist structures. The radicals are the optimists.
  • NY Yankee Bernie Williams (4-time World Series Champion) and Mary Luehrsen discuss ths value of music and music education, which seem particularly important in times when social healing and personal healing are priorities. Williams (on electric guitar) and his band then entertained us with Dance With Me (Earl Klugh arrangement?), Summertime, a medley featuring music by Marvin Gaye and The Beatles, and (I think) Istanbul, not Constantinople. I did not know Bernie Williams was such an accomplished jazz guitarist, with a hit reaching #3 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz Chart!

Integrating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Into Your Human Capital Practices

People are an organization’s greatest asset. Without deep integration of equity and inclusion into your human capital practices, any DEI results you hope to achieve will be limited. Learning how to identify and understand your specific DEI-related human capital challenges and solutioning what, how, and when to integrate DEI into talent development is integral to long-term systemic DEI organizational change.

  • Talent Lifecycle: recruiting, onboarding, developing, transitioning, exiting.
  • Presenters Tamika Mason and Mark Wilson from Building for Mission provided Race Equity Diversity Inclusion (REDI) prompts and interventions at all stages of the talent lifecycle using a number of case studies with participant interactions.

Main Stage: 2020 Leadership Awards


  • Terence Lester, Founder / Executive Director, Love Beyond Walls – American Express NGen Leadership Award. See also this article in The Atlanta Voice. Citing C. T. Vivian, Terence stated: “You are made by the struggles you choose. … Choose your struggle and … do one thing every day to advance that struggle.”
  • Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO, National Women’s Law Center – John W. Gardner Leadership Award. See Fatima Goss Graves Named 2020 Gardner Award Recipient. Fatima is excited by the Movement 4 Black Lives and how it is pushing us and by young people and the cultural reckoning we’re having on race and gender-based violence. Young people are guiding us culturally where our laws and policies are dragging behind. We must smartly and strategically advocate for laws and policies that address where we are culturally and be connected to networks to keep ourselves informed. “I see my job, and the job of National Women’s Law Center, as moving and shaping policies to match our cultural realities.” Fatima also commented on the the Supreme Court, stating that it is very vulnerable right now and may not recover for a long time if if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. Activism is and will be critical to fixing the flaws in our democracy.

How Do We Know the Nonprofit Sector Is Healthy?

People are an organization’s greatest asset. Without deep integration of equity and inclusion into your human capital practices, any DEI results you hope to achieve will be limited. Learning how to identify and understand your specific DEI-related human capital challenges and solutioning what, how, and when to integrate DEI into talent development is integral to long-term systemic DEI organizational change.

  • See Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector, the recent report published by Independent Sector. Allison Grayson (Director of Policy Development and Analysis, Independent Sector) presented the following:
COVID Impact

Financial resources

  • estimate 7% of nonprofits to close
  • 80% report declining revenues
  • Q2 increase in giving, but may not last

Human capital

  • lost 8% of nonprofit jobs (almost 1M)
  • 12% drop in volunteerism
  • After 2008 recession, sector jobs grew by 19% compared to businesses growing by 6%

Leadership & governance

  • 92% of nonprofit leaders worried about fulfilling programs as planned
  • 90% worried about financial stability
  • Trust saw boost, but may be “bubble”

Public policy & advocacy

  • PPP program protected 4.1M nonprofit jobs
  • Temporary UCD passed, but #300 cap too low
  • 16 states changed election process due to COVID
  • Jim Taylor (VP – Leadership Initiatives, BoardSource) raised the need for solutions that are customized for different nonprofits which vary greatly in size and scope. He further noted the disconnect between the understanding of policy and advocacy and the ability to deliver on mission.
  • Yolanda Coentro (CEO, Institute for Nonprofit Practice) built on Jim’s observation on the disconnection by stating that nonprofits did understand that the PPP laws, including those related to forgiveable loans, did impact staffing and mission. They appear to be beginning to understand more of the relatedness between policy and advocacy and mission.
  • Jim and Yolanda then responded to moderator Dan Cardinali (CEO, Independent Sector) about equity and its relationship to nonprofit health. Jim, citing the BoardSource report Leading With Intent, noted the lack of diversity on nonprofit boards and the absence of community voices in organizations serving those communities. Yolanda noted the absence of studies on the benefit of diversity in leadership and nonprofit impact – “The for-profit sector has built the business case for equity … we need to do a better job packaging that information for nonprofits.” Dan amplified this statement with an often quoted principle: You can ‘t improve what you can’t measure.
  • Here’s one measurement: Only 23% of Black-led organizations have 3 months of cash on hand as a result of the pandemic. The nonprofit sector will not be truly healthy until it is truly equitable.
  • Jim, on COVID-relief, again brought the issue around to policy and advocacy and nonprofit health. What happens if the federal government doesn’t provide additional relief and stimulus to our communities, particularly those most impacted. Action and advocacy are going to be necessary responses.
  • Allyson described the second half of the report which focuses on necessary additional studies and reports. She also emphasized the need to reimagine what is considered “infrastructure” and how it relates to capacity building and economic contribution. The nonprofit sector is the third largest employer and needs to be at the table on all workforce issues and rebuilding better.
  • Yolanda emphasized the importance of collective effort and need for data to move this effort.
  • Jim emphasized the importance of nonprofit advocacy, the need for foundations to step up in a big way, and being hopeful and collaborative.
  • Allyson emphasized the need to view things holistically.

Main Stage: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

The issues that are the focus of Upswell – inequality, systemic racism, the impact of COVID-19, particularly on Black, Native, and communities of color – are also top-of-mind for Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II — founder, president, and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Honored with many awards, including the 2018 MacArthur Foundation Genius Award, Rev. Barber is known for his ability to build multiracial and interfaith coalitions that bridge race, gender, age, and class lines, and are dedicated to addressing poverty, inequality, and systemic racism. As changemakers gather at Upswell to end racism and pursue a full recovery for our sector and the communities we serve from COVID-19, Rev. Barber’s exhortation from the Main Stage for renewed moral activism will feed our souls for the challenges ahead, and lift our spirits with encouragement as we seek new ways to collaborate and collectively engineer a more equitable and healthy nation.

  • To save the soul of America, we need a Third Reconstruction – not just new policy, but also new people in place to make new policy. We must understand systemic racism in all of its manifestations and systemic poverty and how these forces interlock. They have been positioned to put us in a destructive win-lose dialogue that keeps us from addressing justice.
  • Racism isn’t just about overt hate. institutional racism is written into policy. It’s about bad policy, not bad people. It’s about power.
  • “Policies rooted in a lust for power over a love of justice” will not help us.
  • “To understand Trump you almost have to step away from him and understand the Southern Strategy that began in 1968 as the attacks on the war against poverty were beginning to work and King had been killed. What you have is an assassination of a movement. You also have at that time Strom Thurmond, Lee Atwater, and other people distinctly decide that we’re going to push racial division, and we’re going to use three or four tactics. Number one, we’re not going to use the very inflammatory words, politically. We’re not going to use the N-word. We’re going to talk about things like tax cuts and forced busing as a states’ rights issue, and the danger of entitlement. And we’ve got to create a narrative that basically blames poor people, especially black and brown poor people, for everybody else’s problems.” See Rev. William Barber on the Political Power of Poor People: ‘We Have to Change Our Whole Narrative’
  • Quoting Martin Luther King, Jr.: “

If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. And he ate Jim Crow. And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, their last outpost of psychological oblivion.

Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; they segregated southern churches from Christianity; they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; and they segregated the Negro from everything. That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality.

Rev. Barber also discussed voter suppression law and racism. “We must engage in voter registration across the country.” See Rev. William Barber on Voter Suppression: Republicans Know They Can’t Win If Everyone Casts a Ballot.

Rev. Barber then discussed the impact of COVID on persons of color and on poor White people. See Poor People’s Campaign.

Main Stage: Stephen Heintz, Marc Morial, and Stacy Palmer

A pandemic that has left no community untouched, yet disproportionately devastated communities of color. Continued brutal reminders of America’s ongoing failure to cleanse the enduring stain of systemic racism. And the overarching impact of these two plagues that has widened the fault lines in our distrust of each, our leadership, our nation, and our ability to maintain our sector’s once solid footing as the foundation of civil society.

  • Stacy Palmer (Editor, Chronicle of Philanthropy) started the day by emphasizing the importance of getting people out to vote and moderated the discussion.
  • Stephen Heintz (CEO, Rockefeller Brothers Fund) said our democracy is in peril but paradoxically promising. Ultimately, it is the political process that allows us to address the problems with our democracy and where power lies. Foundations need to invest more in efforts associated with strengthening our democracy and must fund movements. Democracy works to the extent we believe democracy works, and Americans currently don’t think democracy works. Heintz urged us to read Our Common Purpose: Reinventing American Democracy for the 21st Century and know that after the vote, we still need to do the work.
  • Marc Morial (CEO, National Urban League) added that democracy is at a crossroads with 2020 being an awakening at a time of serious threats on our democracy. Democracy is the foundation to address all pressing issues facing us. Race is at the heart of our current divide. How we set up our levers of power and our institutional systems has exacerbated the problems. Women of color turn out more than any other demographic. They are great advocates but others need to be allies. They are knocking on the door and knocking the door down. The past 150-180 days has broadened the groups speaking of racial and economic justice, educational disparities, health disparities. We need to make this more than a moment.

Main Stage: Jasiri X, Miracle Jones, and Treble NLS

Jasiri X is a Pittsburgh-based rapper and activist who has gained national attention for his songs that include “Free the Jena 6,” “Justice for Trayvon,” “Strange Fruit,” which documents the unjust police killings of millennial Black youth, and his critically acclaimed album, “Black Liberation Theology,” recognized as a soundtrack for today’s civil rights movement. He has performed his music and discussed his views on Hip-Hop, race, and politics nationally, and his focus on social change has received global attention. Jasiri X joins the Main Stage to discuss how art, activism, and media have changed dramatically over the last six months, and how we navigate these changes and participate authentically in this new reality with emerging Pittsburgh leaders — Miracle Jones, community organizer and activist who advocates for equity along the intersections of gender, race, and class; and multi-talented artist, performer, poet, songwriter, producer, and head teaching artist at 1Hood Media, Treble NLS.

  • “I know 2020 has been bad, but we’ve been fighting for years.” – Jasiri X, Treble NLS, and Miracle Jones speaking about white supremacy, police brutality and racism in and around Pittsburgh. 2020 has brought these messages and activist hip hop more attention. And they are fighting for institutional and systemic change beyond any single moment. Fight too or get out of the way and educate yourself.
  • We need change that is systematic, not symbolic. We need to move from performative to policy. Leave your silos, learn, talk with people, and push messages and policies to people who can make the necessary changes.
  • Engage young people by treating them as young leaders and give them space to imagine and believe in a better world.
  • Growth and comfort don’t coexist. If we want to grow as a community, we have to grow as individuals.

Reimagining Philanthropy in a Time of COVID-19 and Inequality

Lucy Bernholz, author of a five-part Chronicle of Philanthropy series, Reimagining Philanthropy, will share her key thoughts during this session about what comes next and how philanthropy can and must be reshaped by the COVID-19 crisis. The series has drawn an enormously positive reaction from readers who have learned new ways of thinking about rebuilding and recovering from COVID-19. Bernholz will discuss how she urges nonprofit and foundation professionals to confront uncomfortable truths in a way that helps them understand their important role in recovery from a shattered economy, rebuilding a healthy system, and promoting racial justice.

  • The independent sector is not independent (from for-profit corporations and government); philanthropy and nonprofits need to reclaim their independence.
  • Our democratic principles do not exist in a space apart from our national commitment to white supremacy. – Eddie S. Glaude, Democracy in Black
  • Philanthropy needs democracy; democracy doesn’t need (big) philanthropy (or nonprofits, for that matter) – Foundations and nonprofits are artifacts of the government, bounded by laws and rules
  • Philanthropy and nonprofits today exist within a profoundly broken democracy.
  • People are not in control of when they are online. We’re tracked at all times. So, one role of the nonprofit sector is to watch the watchers.
  • It’s not just about privacy; it’s about control and agency and how we’ve handed it over. We need to take back the public digital infrastructure.

Closing Main Stage: J. Dash

It’s been said that music and society are intrinsically related – with music reflecting and helping to advance social change, and strengthen our sense of community. J. Dash — classically trained piano prodigy, rapper, songwriter, producer, and engineer — is a multi-instrumentalist who hopes to spark the next generation of musicians and artists of all kinds to push the arts culture forward. He believes that exposing kids to all areas of creative arts and associated business can increase the speed of intellectual development and create a new job market centered in the intersection of arts and technology. As we close out Upswell 2020 with the fierce and empathetic determination we need to improve our nation, who better to provide “the perfect verse over a tight beat” to inspire us to collectively reimagine and build a future where all people and communities thrive.

  • Move people to what you’re passionate about because when it’s your baby, you’ll do whatever it take. The warring tribes – baby metaphor can also be found here.
  • J. Dash – 100 Man – Read the lyrics and check out his video (his live performance for Upswell, with an Amazing Grace prelude, was even better).